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Warriors: Cats of the Sun

[META] Chapter Two: Chasing the River [FIN]

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belloblossom

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Branchtail had been awaiting Palepaw's reply when Nutpelt manifested beside him. He had no issue in purring at her presence, a deep and hearty sound. It was a good thing they weren't trying to hunt at present, as he may have spooked any mice or crawling thing away with his rumbling.

This rumbling quieted when Palepaw spoke again and his tail tip twitched -the beginning of irritation. At her initial question of change, he was opening his mouth to reply, but she was already continuing on. Another twitch of the tail.

"You don't seem to like very much these days, Palepaw." Branchtail remarked. "My sympathy is not everlasting - it's fine to be sad about the split, but you did ultimately choose to leave elders behind, so there's not a lot of use in moping around about it now." He gave a nonchalant shrug, trying to unwind his tightening shoulders. That Palepaw could act so pathetically miserably every step of the way since they left, even though she'd willingly gone along with the group... it was more than a little frustrating, even to a tomcat like Branchtail who wasn't directly involved in the drama. Eh, they were Clanmates - if one of them was miserable, they all would be eventually. "You were right, earlier, I suppose. We're still MountainClan now, so maybe you ought to stop acting like you hate being here and more like you have some interest in your Clanmates." @Nym (tagging Palepaw) @PeterPan_da144 (purring at Nutpelt)
 

Nym

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There was a moment where Palepaw just stared. What else could she do? She had never, not once, been exposed to direct cruelty from her own clanmate. That's what this was, wasn't it? She had seen dead bodies before -- seen the piling of her lost clanmates and what little to no food did. She hadn't seen her own turning such harsh words onto others. Bluntness? Sure. Daisypelt was known for her frigid barbs and Branchtail had aided in that development. But this? This was new, and all she could do was stare as she parsed her initial reaction.
Anger.
It licked her heart with a deep and burning hatred, rolling as it spread through her chest. She had been so pent up before this, so completely and utterly consumed by the overwhelming hatred developing in her that had zero escape. Until now.
Her head slowly cocked to the side, eyes narrowing harshly as her jaw grit. What the hell was his problem? She hadn't asked for his opinion, nor had she requested he bring up a subject that needn't need repeating. Did no one know how to shut the hell up anymore? Give her time to process? Was even that stripped from her? She had never once demanded anything of anyone, and yet here he was, expecting her to smile back at him and ramble on about their new rebrand. Why? Was he that desperate for attention?
She had never felt such animosity before and it was blinding, reeling back in her with fangs bared. She almost choked on it as she growled lowly at the warrior, head raising to view him with a newer sense of self.
Jerk.
"Does that feel good, Branchtail?" She snarled, ears pinned against her head. "I didn't ask for your opinion. I don't believe anyone did. You're right; I have zero interest in you. I'm sure I've been bringing your day down with my moping, but I didn't ask you to look at it. What, is Nutpelt not giving you enough attention?"
She hated how this felt. It was so new, so suffocating, so wrong, but Branchtail had stepped right onto a landmine. And honestly? If you asked her? It looked like he wanted a fight. And, if she was being honest, what he had said hurt. Hurt more than she was willing to admit.
'But you did ultimately choose to leave elders behind.'
She wanted to puke. This was just proving her place wasn't with this group. She didn't belong. Tears pricked at her eyes but the fury washed over her more. She wasn't going to back down.
 

belloblossom

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Branchtail watched Palepaw with somewhat of a bored look on his face. His tail had bristled into nearly twice its size - the only indication that he was really and truly bothered, but SunClan help him - he was sure that he wouldn't look good to Nutpelt or any cat for that matter, if he tried to hurl this apprentice down to the river. Maybe a cool soak would wake her up to the reality of their situation. Besides, he was only trying to be helpful. Her miserable attitude would only go on to infect others and morale was already low. Sure, the river was a step in the right direction, but he felt a righteous indignation that Palepaw had the gall to sulk when she chose to be here. If she had really wanted to stay in the mountain she would've. Clearly she just didn't want it badly enough.

"Palepaw, you're going to have to get used to cats offering you advice even if you don't ask for it." He mewed. "And guess what - it's not just me looking at your moody attitude, it's affecting everyone around you. If I can see it - someone that's not even in your inner circle, how do you think this mood swing is affecting your loved ones?" He shook his head himself. "I wanted to engage with you in hopes of lifting your mood, but you seem so determined to be upset."

He sighed, rolling his eyes towards the sky above as he tried to reign in his displeasure of how this had gone.
"I'm just saying, you're here, with us. All of us are trying to continue on however we can - so for the sake of MountainClan, maybe you could show some decency and try a little harder, too?"

With that being said, he turned to Nutpelt, searching her gaze. His expression morphed, his eyes turning round. What had he gotten himself into? He was trying to be friendly. Surely Nutpelt ould understand that he was just rotten at talking to kits, right? @Nym (tagging Pale) @PeterPan_da144 (tagging Nut)
 

Nym

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The look didn't fool her -- she saw that tail. Sun Clan help her, she wanted to stomp on it. She didn't want to stoop to his level, but did that really matter anymore? She felt completely and utterly disregarded, her mouth opening only to snap shut as the rage tightened her throat. How did she think she was affecting her loved ones? Oh, that was grand -- that's why she was even there, wasn't it? And, Sun Clan, did she regret it. What was the point? She had stayed because everyone pretty much screamed at her about how fragile her precious mother was, but even then Deadeye had crumbled during the journey. Her decision had been pointless; she didn't need Branchtail reminding her of that. She had thrown away the only thing she had felt so passionately for in hopes to keep her mother from possibly succumbing to her constant battle with her mental illness and it still happened.
If it was going to happen anyway she should have just stayed.
All she had thought about was her family, and look where it got her. Disrespected, mocked, and treated like a child. Paw -- he had emphasized. She hated that word; it had been why everyone felt so righteous in telling her what she ought to do. She was more than a paw, but hey, she was being too emo for everyone, so what did her feelings matter?
"I'm not going to play pretend so you all can feel better being around me," she spat, spine bristling. No one was whining at Deadeye for also moping. No, everyone had the patience for her mother, but not for her. She had never felt so tiny and insignificant before.
"I hope you know what you're letting grovel at your feet," she suddenly hissed towards Nutpelt. "This is who he is. Sun Clan forbid your kittens ever struggle; he'll just stomp on them while they're down while showing you his stomach."
She turned to look back at Branchtail and shook her head, biting back every desire to just lunge at him. No, that'd just prove his point, wouldn't it? "I'm sorry there isn't much else to you other than preening yourself in hopes you'll get attention, but find someone else to pester. You're just as ugly inside as you look, Branchtail."
Stop it! These cats are your family!
No, they weren't. He had made that clear.
She turned, blinking back the hateful tears as she tried to desperately create space between her and him, slinking off further into the crowd.
@belloblossom (You can have him follow her if you'd like!) @PeterPan_da144 (I'm sorry Nutpelt but you got dragged into this)
 

belloblossom

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Branchtail could've let Palepaw tear him apart, could've dealt with his anger internally, could've let all of this slide as a butthurt apprentice in a pissy mood. Yet, the minute Palepaw whirled on Nutpelt, Branchtail let out a snarl loud enough he'd be surprised if heads weren't turning. Good. Let all cats see how cruel Palepaw could be to an innocent bystander such as Nutpelt. How dare this apprentice who had chosen her fate, drag someone else into it - and all because Branchtail had chosen to love her.

"You do not get to say such fox-hearted things to her!" His tail lashed. "Be spiteful at me, Palepaw, come and get me - let's see if pretty little Damsonflower actually taught you how to fight if you'd like, but you leave Nutpelt out of our discussion." He flattened his ears at her remark, but wondered for a moment - was Palepaw trying to diffuse the conflict? She'd called him pretty on the inside just as on the out, right? He glanced to Nutpelt - she heard that too, right? As Palepaw stormed away and he was left alone with Nutpelt, he felt himself feeling very... tense. Not quite ashamed, but... He could guess that Nutpelt wouldn't be happy with him. Probably would never be happy with him and... if Palepaw's words really struck a chord with her, maybe she would leave him and he'd never feel her pelt brushing against his again. If Nutpelt were ever to look at him with cold eyes, all because of an argument with Palepaw. He breathed a deep sigh, blinking in hopes to calm his nerves.

"I messed that one up. But I'll fix it, Nutpelt. I'll apologize to her or something. So... so I'll be right back and I'll fix it and then we can talk. Uh, sorry." He leaned his head forward, briefly trying to brush his cheek against Nutpelt's sheepishly - ah, so that was the feeling he hadn't been able to identify. Pulling away, he turned and taking a deep breath, he steadied himself and shoved his way through the crowd of cats, after Palepaw.

"Palepaw, hey! Running off is hardly going to make any of this easier. Just...Oh SunClan, come tear my ears off if that's gonna be what it takes to make you feel better!" @Nym (tagging Palepaw) @PeterPan_da144
 

PeterPan_da144

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Nutpelt felt her cheeks grow a little warm as Branchtail purred at her.

"I agree, Palepaw," she would say gently. "Leaving the mountains doesn't make us any less Mountain Clan." She didn't see the need for a name change, though she could see why some might. If they were no longer in the mountains, it wouldn't fit, right? Though she'd wished Branchtail hadn't engaged Palepaw about this subject just yet. Something told Nutpelt she still wasn't ready to talk.

Sure enough, Branchtail began to respond, making her frown. Change the subject, you dolt! "Branchtail," she has begun with a warning tone. As she straightened up to address it, Palepaw recoiled and snarled. Nutpelt's eyes widened and she let out a little gasp. Palepaw was hurt, she knew that, but she hadn't expected such a response.

As she tried to formulate a reply, Nutpelt found it was useless as Branchtail continued to push the subject. Her tail was bristling now too, utterly unamused with the tom cat. When he turned to her, she gave him this glaring look. She wasn't happy.

And then Palepaw landed some low blows. Her gaze turned from irritated at Branchtail, to a bit disappointed towards Palepaw, though she didn't look directly at the apprentice. So that she wouldn't relate the facial expressions to her. The young age cat already felt bad enough.

"Branchtail!" She was firmer this time and lifted a paw to swat at him. "What is wrong with you?!" Though he whipped on Palepaw before she could swat him. Warmth spread through her as he defended her, though she hadn't needed any. She wasn't taking Palepaw's words to heart. And then there was him pressing against her which made her let out a slightly strangled sound.

"Branchtail," her voice was lower and calmer. "You should probably leave her alone for a bit!" They really didn't need a fight breaking out right now. She started after him, though, to try to bring him back.

@belloblossom
@Nym
 

Subducting

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Camelstride paced to join Lynxstrike, purring at the scent of the river. Finally, a scrap of hope. “I can’t wait to take a good long drink,” she purred at her sister. Camelstride didn’t share her sister’s height, but she was stocky, but not quite so notably bigger than the clan cats as Lynxstrike and Tigereye. She wondered idly if that was why she was so much less restless than her sisters seemed to be- Camelstride was happy to simply be in whatever situation the clan found itself in, no matter the hardships they endured. She never thought to wish for anything else outside of clan life for herself, but she watched her sisters closely, loyal as the sun to them.

@Nym
 

Nym

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A long drink would definitely be nice. Lynxstrike purred loudly towards her sister, brushing her long side into Camelstride. She was grateful all her siblings had come on the journey; just having them by her side gave her peace of mind she would forever welcome.
"Or a swim," she added, nodding firmly. Likely that was what this was leading to, but Lynxstrike was ready to stretch her legs and try the waters. The smaller clan members might struggle, but maybe Lynxstrike could physically drag them through the waters.
"Looking forward to settling down?" She mewled, peering owlishly at her sister. "I'm going to miss the travel, honestly. This has done a wonder for my joints." She had felt so cooped up in the mountains, but not here!
 

PeterPan_da144

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Poppypaw had returned to Riversurge's side. She'd begun to really enjoy the tom cats presence, and would seek him out when Palepaw was otherwise distracted. Often she had even tried to get the both of them around so they could all hang out, but it never seemed to really work. So her time was split between the two when she wasn't out hunting for the clan.

She had continued walking with him after the revelation of the river, talking in excited but soft tones with him if he was willing to talk or listen. The young she cat remembered the prophecy, but unspoken, she didn't think she'd lose the two cats who meant the most of her if they split. She also hadn't thought about it much...

Suddenly, she heard yowling a bit further up. Ears perked and twitched. "Palepaw," she frowned. A look was given to Riversurge. A soft smile. "I'm going to go help her. You can come if you want." Her tail flicked against his side gently, affectionately even, before she started away.

She caught the end of the conversation though. Her hackles raised. Palepaw bit back to Branchtail. Poppypaw weaved through the cats until she'd brushed past Palepaw, then came face to face with Branchtail. She stood straight and solid, reaching up and swatting him as hard as she could across the face. "Enough," she snarled. "Leave her alone or I'll make you." Her eyes were piercingly angry as she jerked her head back towards Nutpelt for him to turn around. Then her eyes narrowed threateningly.

Satisfied, for now, she turned to follow after Palepaw and catch up to her friend. Pelts brushed as she pressed her side into the paler cat, but she remained silent otherwise. Wanting to give her space and time to process yet stay close enough she felt safer and protected. Palepaw wasn't alone. Poppypaw would always be at her side.

@belloblossom
@Nym
 
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Subducting

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The thought of a swim was enticing, and Camelstride rolled her shoulders, nodding. “I’ll be glad when I know everyone’s safe,” she agreed, nodding towards where Littleflower anxiously chatted to Sunseer. “Littleflower is running herself ragged, but I don’t know there’s anything we can do to help. And as for everybody else…” almost as if on cue, there was an outbreak of incensed yowling, and Camelstride winced, ears flattening in concern.

@Nym
 

Nym

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Lynxstrike sympathetically glanced towards Littleflower and nodded, a frown appearing on her face. Little mother was absolutely going to run herself dry at this rate, but Lynxstrike knew better than to try and stop someone so determined. It'd just end up hurting her, at that rate. Much like someone else was hurting-
Oh, speak of the devil.
Her head raised to view the direction of the yowling, shoulders tightening as she protectively stood closer to her sister. Jeez.
"That is a mess," she murmured. "The prophecy did warn of a split..." Was it going to be because of the bubbling bomb that was developing from the recent decision?
Ugh, this clan life was... a lot.
"Hey," she leaned down to nudge her sister and offered a reassuring smile. "That'll never be us, okay. I got your back, always."
 

belloblossom

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Branchtail was going to be slow to admit that he'd done anything wrong in this situation. What he could identify is that somehow things had escalated, that he probably had something to do with that, but surely not all the blame could fall solely on his shoulders. Palepaw had a stick up under her tail and maybe he'd made it worse - unintentionally or no, but he was going to fix it. If he didn't address it now... he didn't think he'd ever have the nerve to apologize to her later. Emotions were strong - he could still see Nutpelt's look at him in his mind's eye. He needed to fix this matter, even if it wasn't wholly his fault. He just wanted Nutpelt to be happy with him again.

Of course, the moment that he got close enough to reach Palepaw, another apprentice, Poppypaw, came in to intervene. He was opening his mouth to tell her to back off - this wasn't her fight and anyway he didn't need another cat making this even bigger of an issue than it already was. Instead, he got a flying paw to the face that clocked him in his jaw and left him stumbling back a step. His tail lashing, he steadied himself and faced off against the mottled she-cat.

"I am going to apologize. I am stronger than you are Poppypaw. I will get passed you if I have to, but I don't wish to cause any further... issues." He growled through clenched teeth, fighting to keep his anger within a reasonable range. Still, if even one more cat got in the middle of this... SunClan help him.

Moving forward with a surge of determination, he raised his maw to the sky and called over the crowd to the pale she-cat who was hurrying away from him.
"Palepaw, come back here and face me! There's only one way we can work this out!" Communication, naturally - he didn't need to say that out loud, right? @Nym @PeterPan_da144
 

Nym

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She was overwhelmed -- drowning in the absolute chaos that was starting to fall apart around her. It was her fault. All of it was her fault. All because she didn't follow her heart. She was everything that was wrong right now, every piece of disaster that had begun to rain down and scatter. Branchtail was right, she knew, but also so very wrong. He wanted her to be the monster, she sensed, and that small and young part of her twisted and cried at the realization. What had she done? If she had just stayed none of this would be happening.
She wanted her mom.
Except, deep down, she really wanted to just disintegrate right then and there. Let Branchtail crow in glory and vindication while she turned into ash and dust. The fire in her throat burned as she choked on it, skidding to a stop to regain her composure and try and reel in some semblance of sanity. Don't lunge at Branchtail, she begged. Don't prove him right.
And then Poppypaw was there.
She was there and had taken a swing at Branchtail before Palepaw could even manage her name. Palepaw stood there, disbelief flashing across her face like lightning. She had chosen to stay and it was destroying everyone else.
"Sto-" She had begun to cry out, stopped as Branchtail whirled back onto her. There it was again -- that hatred. It struck her like molten iron, leaving a mark on her heart as she began to storm back toward him.
If he wanted her to play the part then fine.
"You horrible, awful cat," she began between her teeth, cutting the distance quickly. She made a move to slide around Poppypaw, only to feel a firm paw yank her backward and onto her butt. She blinked back the harsh sting radiating up her spine, peering through wet eyes to see him; Mothwing.
And boy, had she never seen that look on his face before.
 

Nym

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Mothwing had caught the tail end of... whatever the hell this was. He had been so distracted by Deadeye that, for just a moment, Palepaw's whereabouts had finally left his peripheral, only for her to come crashing back into his sight at the sound of her shrieking. By the time he arrived he had pieced together what had happened, grabbed his daughter, and yanked her so far from the source of the problem that, later, he'd have to apologize for any bruising.
He glowered at Branchtail, face venomous as he bared his teeth and squared his shoulders.
"Enough," he snarled, tail lashing behind him. "You're not getting past me."
He didn't care what Branchtail wanted with his daughter anymore -- it was clear Palepaw needed desperately for the male to back off. Mothwing couldn't care less what happened if he and Branchtail ended up in a fight; he wasn't here for Mountain Clan. He never had been.
 

belloblossom

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Riversurge was more than happy with Poppypaw's company, often offering her small, shy smiles. He could never work up the nerve to really touch her beyond a gentle tail flick on her paws when they were sitting together, but... it was more than enough to keep his fur warm just soaking in her energy. He walked her as she darted about, her excitement starting to infect him like a pleasant disease (if such a thing could ever be imagined.)

She was gone momentarily, presumbably to Palepaw and then she was back, quietly chattering away at him. He offered a quiet purr in turn.
"I am excited, merely to see you so happy, Poppypaw." He told her. "You light up the forest."

Maybe he would've said more, or maybe he would've gotten too embarrassed and clammed up the rest of the trip. Neither option was explored, for soon Poppypaw was rushing off to Palepaw's aid. He was proud of her for going to protect her friend and he wanted to follow, really he did, but the sounds of fighting scared him so. Everyone in the Clan, she-cats and tomcats, all seemed to have the capacity to be frightening.

His claws slid out to anxiously knead the dirt below him as the yowls rose in volume and without thinking, he found himself tearing the dirt up and cramming it into his ears. When packed in enough, he could barely hear the noise ahead and it gave him the courage to follow after the she-cat he valued so deeply.

When he arrived at last, taking his sweet time in getting there... he stopped. Mothwing and Branchtail were facing off, Poppypaw and Palepaw were there and Palepaw looking utterly terrified - what had Branchtail done? Nutpelt, too, seemed to be coming up behind him. Was this some sort of all clan execution?! Maybe he shouldn't have stuffed his ears with dirt after all, he couldn't seem to get a grasp of what was going on very well.

Gulping and starting to shake the clods from his ears, flicking them hard from one side to the next, Riversurge approached slowly, body slinking so close to the ground that he was nearly in a hunting crouch. Feeling his belly rub along the ground below, he crept over to Poppypaw and Palepaw. Nestling around Poppypaw - as though she might be able to protect him, too, from whatever he'd walked up on, he licked her shoulder and stared wide-eyed at all that was transpiring around him. @PeterPan_da144
 

Subducting

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Stormflight was padding along Eclipsefur when she heard raised voices ahead, ears flicking upright as her expression became hard. “Sorry, Eclipsefur,” she muttered, bounding forwards with a stony expression. She heard Palepaw and Branchtail’s argument and saw Poppypaw strike the arrogant tom, and grimaced as Branchtail still wouldn’t let it lie. She skidded to a halt next to Mothwing and Branchtail, fur brushed up, and glared at them.

“How is this any of this helping?” She meowed loudly, fur bushed up in shock that her clanmates were coming to blows, “We’re a clan, shall we try acting like it? Branchtail, you can make it right later- back off now, this isn’t helping.” Her voice was as calming as she could make it, and it was taking all her strength to hold her tail still. “We’re all under a lot of stress, but we can’t start turning on each other, or we’ll never survive this journey.”

@belloblossom @Nym @PeterPan_da144
 

belloblossom

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Branchtail was coming to the end of his patience. First, he gets attitude from a hopeless apprentice when he was trying to be friendly. Then, when he realized that he might have said the wrong thing at the wrong time and tried to fix it, every cat in the Clan seemed ready to get in his way! Poppypaw had hit him for SunClan's sake! Surely it must be against part of the warrior code to attack your own Clanmate? Finally, when he was finally getting a chance to clear things up with Palepaw, though she seemed determined to fight him every step of the way, in came Mothwing to bully him out of the way. Oh, what timing! Mothwing finally decided to act like a father when Branchtail was THIS close to apologizing to Palepaw and moving away from this whole thing.

And then Stormflight showed up.

Preaching about how they should all calm down and how they weren't helping anything or anyone. She chose of all the cats to only pick him out of the crowd as though he was the only one at fault here! Why not go after Poppypaw for attacking him unprovoked? Or Mothwing, who started this whole thing by forcing his daughter to make a choice she didn't want to?! Why was he getting all the blame, when he had only just opened his mouth for one conversation?!

Branchtail took in everyone's faces, his green eyes lit with frustration and dismay and he tilted his head back to the clear sky above and he roared.

Lashing a paw out to point at Mothwing, his claws carefully sheathed, he snarled.
"I tried to help your daughter - even if she refuses to see it. Maybe next time you can act like a decent parent and take the blame for all this mess instead of forcing me to be the scapegoat!" He turned his head to where Palepaw was. "You! I am sorry that I hurt your feelings. I am sorry that I don't have the words to make it better - but more than that I'm sorry for even trying. Live in misery if you so desperately want to, but keep my mate's name out of your mouth!" He stared hard at Poppypaw, at Riversurge, at Stormflight and lowered his paw, claws slashing out at the dirt below him, before retracting as he turned and found himself face to face with Nutpelt. His ears and head ducked - he couldn't look at her.

"I...I'm done." He muttered. "Let's go." @Nym @PeterPan_da144 @Subducting
 

Nym

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Branchtail roared and Palepaw wanted to scream in response. He was frustrated? Him? He had come to her, unhappy with her answer and digging his claws when all she had said was she was less than thrilled at the concept of changing the clan's name. How absolutely ridiculous was all of this? It felt pointed, and Palepaw felt in her heart he had directly targeted her. Of course he had; apparently she was a sore sight for him. For everyone, he had said.
She sat there, taking in the sight of the cats who had run to her side. The cats she had burdened. Her chest tightened and her breath hitched as the anger slowly faded into a crashing pain. They had run to her side for what? She didn't belong there. She was just dragging everyone down. At least Deadeye loved the cats she surrounded herself with... Palepaw wasn't supposed to be here! She was just dragging everyone down into her own misery.
Like Branchtail had said.
She choked on a sob and rightened herself, mouth opening and closing several times as she tried to manage a response. A thank you, a shout, a cry -- anything. Instead, she shook her head and backed up, slipping against the dirt.
You're just a burden here.
"I'm sorry," was all she managed before she bolted from the group, crashing through the crowd until her paws had taken her far enough. Until all she could hear was the distant murmuring of her clan as she crawled into a bush and tightened herself into the smallest of balls and cried.
Everything was a mess, and it was her fault.
 

Nym

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Mothwing narrowed his eyes sharply as Branchtail whirled on him. His jaw grit hard, teeth digging into each other as he bit back every desire to slap the cat silly. He was perfectly aware of where his faults laid, but he refused to take the blame for a grown cat being unable to stop shoving their foot all the way down their throat. Any decent clan cat could see Palepaw was not in the proper mindset and had steered clear of Palepaw for the time being. And then there was Branchtail.
Call him a bad dad, and maybe he was, but Mothwing refused to let the cat pin the blame on him for this mess.
Branchtail stormed off and Palepaw burst free from the group, leaving Mothwing frozen in place. Where had she gone? Where was she going? He faltered, desperately searching for his daughter in the crowd.
"Poppypaw," he called softly, pleadingly looking towards her. "Please, help her."

@PeterPan_da144
 

PeterPan_da144

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Poppypaw had started to square up to Branchtail. Perhaps she shouldn't have hit him, but if he didn't stop, she'd do it again. And she wouldn't be so gentle this time. She would show that mouse brained idiot.

As her paw raised, ears flattened, and mouth contorted into a snarl, Mothwing appeared. Apparently Palepaw had started forward again, only to be pulled back by her father. Whom pushed his way partially in front of Poppypaw. Her paw froze, claws flexing, before she put it back down and turned to Palepaw. Pressing close beside her and giving her reassuring licks to the top of her head. The world was tuned out when Riversurge appeared, and a gentle purr rumbled forth from the young she cat. Riversurge and Palepaw were all that mattered to her. The clan could shatter into as many pieces as it wanted, so long as she had them, she'd be content.

Her ear just flicked at Branchtail as he continued to prattle on uselessly. Or so she thought. Suddenly, Palepaw was gone. Bewildered, she glanced around, spotting the pale cat at the last moment. Mothwing's words made her reply with a flick of her tail as she got up. "Come in, River. We have to find Pale. She shouldn't be alone right now."

With Riversurge at her side (hopefully), Poppypaw would follow after Palepaw. Once away from other cats, she'd turn to Riversurge if he was there. A meek smile given. "She thinks she's a burden. That she isn't useful to the clan or anyone. She's not the first cat to think that with this journey, but she's taking it much harder because her choice was taken from her."

Poppypaw's eyes began to water. "Everyone thinks because I'm so full of energy and restless and sometimes hurt myself in my eagerness, that I'm silly and young and don't understand things. But I do. I can see when someone's hurting, and all I want to do is help." She'd done it with many cats before, though Riversurge and Palepaw most recently.

"But she's not. And they're not." Poppypaw was referring to Riversurge moreso than any others, as he'd recently been thinking less of himself because he could t bring back as much prey as others. She's helped him find other ways to help, to make himself feel better. No one was useless or a burden. And no one would be abandoned.

More soft sniffles came from her as she padded along. "Palepaw didn't choose to come with us. She was forced to. Manipulated into it. Even someone as mouse brained as Branchtail should be able to see that." Now she was just muttering to herself until she found Palepaw. Or perhaps she'd been muttering to herself the entire time if Riversurge hadn't come along.

Either way, she'd find Palepaw and curl around her and just lay with her. Welcoming Riversurge if the tom cat had followed. Grooming them both.

@belloblossom (Riversurge doesn't have to follow, Poppypaw can just be ranting to herself ^^)
@Nym
 
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